My mind being the way it is, I was more consumed with finding out what they were going to eat during these exciting days than with the whole crowning affair per se, with all due respect. Would they serve Koninginnesoep for one last time? A slice of koningsbrood to go with a Dutch cup of coffee? Oh, if only I knew!!! Worst of all, with all this talk about koning this and koning that, I could not stop thinking about zomerkoninkjes.
Zomerkoninkjes, summer kings, is a Dutch nickname for strawberries. They grow abundantly in The Netherlands, both in fields and in greenhouses. Furthermore, it's a great way to make some spending money in the summer: when I was a young girl, many of my classmates would pick field strawberries for the local farmer and get paid per crate. I tried to do the same one year, but ended up eating more strawberries than landed in my crate. At the end of the day, I had only made a few guilders. And I had a big stomach ache!
But strawberries are a traditional early summer treat. As soon as the red berries are available in the store or at the market, the Dutch will serve these first berries on slices of white, buttered bread with a sprinkling of regular sugar, much to the delight of the children. Because, as strawberries are fairly juicy, the moment you pour sugar on it, it dissolves. The trick was to convince your parents that you had not yet sprinkled any sugar on the fruit and that it was imperative that you'd sprinkle some more, and then see how many times you could get away with it.
What a grand way to celebrate the change of seasons: whether it be on Soestdijk or at your kitchen table. Long live the summer king!